The New York Yankees have traditionally never been a fast-starting team. Even one of the greatest Yankee teams ever, the 1998 Yankees, started under .500 for the first few weeks of the season.
You know what happened the rest of that season.
The 2021 Yankees got off to a similarly slow start in terms of record, but the bad stretch of play was extended for the entire month of April. In a homestand that began April 30 against the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees went 7-2 in that stretch, including taking two of three from the Houston Astros in a highly emotional series.
After an off day, great Yankees play ensued. Series wins against AL East foes Tampa Bay Rays, and Baltimore Orioles seemed to be the final nail in the bad start coffin. After losing the first game of the series against the Texas Rangers with Gerrit Cole on the mound, the Yankees came back to win three straight to take the series, highlighted by Corey Kluber’s no-hitter.
The Yankees came back to the Bronx to sweep the Chicago White Sox to begin the homestand. The team then reverted to their April ways losing a series to the Toronto Blue Jays at home and then being embarrassingly swept by the Tigers in Detroit, getting a deserved verbal beat down from Michael Kay.
The state of the Yankees, summed up by Michael Kay. pic.twitter.com/oBasy2bjU1— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) May 30, 2021
It is just June 4, and in the grand scheme of things, we are still just 35% through the season. However, injuries have begun to catch up, and we haven’t seen what we’ve needed to see from DJ LeMahieu and Brett Gardner. LeMahieu is obviously the best of the three, but we haven’t seen $90 million LeMahieu yet. The man who hit .327 and .364 in 2019 and 2020 respectively sits at just .255 at this point. As valuable as a player, we need to see the old DJ if the Yankees want to be serious contenders.
Brett Gardner seems to be coming around but is still hitting just .197 on the season. The Yankees had to know that he would be a critical part of this team, with the team being known for their injuries. This is Gardner’s last ride with the Yankees, and for his sake, Yankee fans’ sake, and the front office’s sake, he needs to contribute just a bit more at the plate for this to be a happy ending in October.
Someone who is doing better than Yankees Twitter wants to admit is Gary Sanchez. He still isn’t back to 2019 Sanchez but has an OPS+ above the league average at 104.
He has really heated up in his last seven games, hitting .389 with a home run, a pair of RBI’s, and a 1.167 OPS during that stretch. He won’t catch Gerrit Cole, but we can live with a day off every four days and still keep his bat in the lineup as a DH if it matches up.
With the Rays and Red Sox for real in 2021, the Bombers must be consistent or risk watching the postseason from their television.
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